Better Business Bureau: Protect yourself from holiday shopping scams

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Wednesday, November 22, 2017
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Steve Bernas of the Better Business Bureau shared some tips on how to make sure you get what you pay for.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Black Friday is just two days away. Cyber Monday comes soon after. Steve Bernas of the Better Business Bureau shared some tips on how to make sure you get what you pay for.

He explained how shoppers can protect themselves while making online purchases, especially through social media. He also reminded people not to be fooled by "limited-time offers" that are typically available all year.


BBB Tips for Busy Black Friday & Cyber Monday Shopping

Nearly 70 percent of Americans plan to shop during Thanksgiving weekend, according to the National Retail Federation. That number includes Cyber Monday, Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday and Small Business Saturday and Sunday. Consumers plan to spend an average of $967.13, up 3.4 percent from last year, according to the annual NRF survey.

In 2016, Black Friday set a record 3.05B in single-day online sales and an estimated 99 million people contributed to foot traffic sales by visiting a brick-and-motor retail store. Black Friday 2016 was also the first day to generate more than a billion dollars in online sales from mobile devices, according to Adobe. Smartphones accounted for 45 percent of page visits and 24 percent of sales on Black Friday. To gear up for the shopping rush, retailers have been promoting "door buster" deals and online bargains earlier and earlier.

Steve Bernas, president and CEO of Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois says, "Black Friday and Cyber Monday are two of the busiest shopping days of the year and retailers know that people are looking for a good deal. Unfortunately, BBB sees far too many consumers fall for the hype each year. And with the plethora of fake emails and online pop up ads comes the higher probability of shoppers being lured into scams."

He adds, "That's why it's so important to do your homework ahead of time and remember that oftentimes, these same "limited time offers" are available throughout the year. Here's a rule of thumb; if it seems too good to be true, it probably is."

BBB suggests following these tips for a better holiday shopping experience:

Read the fine print. Some stores only honor sale ads during a certain time frame, or on certain days. Some stores may only allow you to purchase one item, particularly large, popular and/or deeply discounted products.

Watch for fake apps. In an era where fake emails, and pop-up ads are common, now fake shopping apps are becoming common and can lead to money and identity theft.

Be careful of phishing scams. A popular one at this time of year is an email claiming to be from a package- delivery company with links to tracking information (clicking on unfamiliar links can place you at risk for malware and/or identity theft).

Know the advertiser. Some of the best deals are only available online, but be careful. It's easy for a fake site to mimic a famous retailer's website, so make sure you are shopping with a legitimate site. Check out to read more about stores or websites unfamiliar to you.

Ask for gift receipts and save warranty information. A gift receipt can be tucked into a gift item or card so that the recipient can return or exchange a gift if it's not just right. Be sure to pass along any information about returns, exchanges, repairs, and warranties to the person who will use the item.

Shop with a credit card. A credit card provides additional protections over a debit card in case of fraudulent transactions. If your card number is compromised, it's easier to dispute any charges that you didn't approve. Prepaid cards or gift cards don't have the same protections as a credit card, but you'll never lose more than the value of the card itself.

Learn about advertising tricks and gimmicks. The new BBB #AdTruth campaign highlights bad ads and helps you learn to identify the most common schemes and cons. Check it out at

Make sure websites are secure. Only share personal information and your credit card number with websites that are https (the extra "s" stands for secure) and that have a security lock icon in the task bar.

Remember to always report scammers. If you've been the target of a scam or suspect scam activity, report it to authorities and BBB Scam Tracker to warn others.

For reliable information, lists of BBB Accredited Businesses by industry, and BBB Business Reviews you can trust on local businesses and charities, visit

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ABOUT BBB: For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. Consumers and businesses can search business reviews and ratings on more than 5.3 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at The Council of Better Business Bureaus is the umbrella organization for the local, independent BBBs in the United States, Canada and Mexico, as well as home to its national programs on dispute resolution, advertising review, and industry self-regulation.